We all start exercise with the best of intentions, to get fit and get in shape, but what If I told you that there were some exercises out there that you should not be doing. Below is a short list of the top 5 exercises you should be avoiding on your quest towards fitness glory!
UNBELIEVABLE! Everyone knows that sit-ups are good for you…aren’t they? Actually not so much. A sit up is basically a flexion of the torso using our abdominal muscles. We all like them because of the burn we get and because we think they’ll give us that cheeky ‘six-pack’ (which they won’t by the way!) But here’s the issue. Most of us spend all day at desks, or using laptops, or sat watching TV, and when we sit like this we’re in a flexion posture. So if we already spend 8 hours a day in a flexion posture, why on earth would we go to the gym and deliberately spend another hour doing more of the SAME THING? Why not try a ‘plank’ exercise instead? You’ll improve your core stability, hit deeper core muscles and there are so many variations you’ll never have to do a boring old sit up again.
2. The Bench Press (Done wrong)
I know that there are about a hundred guys reading this and swearing at the screen. The Bench Press has been a bodybuilding and general strong guy favourite for decades. So why on earth is shouldn’t we be doing it? This time there’s two reasons. Reason one is similar to the issue with the sit ups, we spend all day with our shoulders and chest flexed forwards, so why would we spend the evening doing more of the same. Reason two is INJURY. I’ve seen more shoulder injuries from the bench press than with any other exercise. This is typically because guys like to put more weight onto the bar than they can handle and use a very inefficient pressing technique. Seriously just stop it, if you really want to exercise your chest grab a lighter pair of dumbbells and look at using a more triceps dominant technique. (I’ll be posting an article on how to Press safely later)
3. The Machine Leg Extension (Not to mention the seated leg press!)
Another overused exercise that’s not helping anyone. It’s easy to perform (you just sit and extend your legs) which makes it attractive for beginners, but it’s also a guaranteed route to long term injury! Here’s the big issue, the machine leg extension really only uses your quad muscles (the front of your leg) but it doesn’t train the hamstrings on the back. What does this create, a muscle imbalance, and what does this lead to…injury. Seriously I’ve seen more serious knee injuries because of this than because of any other training problem. It’ll start as a knee pain and then in a few months down the line POP, you’ve got yourself an ACL tear. If you want to train your legs (which you DEFINITELY SHOULD if you want to look better, lose weight or gain muscle!) then start with some good old fashioned bodyweight squats and build up the weight you use each week.
In fact, click here a simple strength programme you can try
Ok, so this one’s a little vague, let’s specifically call it road running and running too much. When most of us think of starting exercise, running is one of the first things that comes to mind. Our heads fill up with images of healthy people skipping around in the summer sun. The image we don’t get is the brutal reality of dozens of runners sat at home covered in ice packs because they’ve got burning shin pain! (Click here to learn how to cure it) The issue here is that running is an impact activity, and it’s usually your shins and knees that pick up the brunt. This is especially true if you’ve put on a few extra pounds over the last few days months or years! If you really have your heart set on running then do your legs a favour and start running on grass to absorb some of that shock. Plus remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, start slow, run smaller distances and build up your mileage little bit by little bit. The tortoise really does win this race!
5. Pretty much EVERYTHING that involves a rounded back
There are plenty of great exercises that will help you get a lean, sexy high performance body. There’s just one catch…you have to do them correctly. Time and time again I speak to people who tell me “such and such exercise (usually deadlifts) hurt my lower back.” Well the problem isn’t the exercise; it’s the way you’ve done the exercise. If you pick up a weight with a nice neutral spine and braced core you’ll be fine. If you pick up a weight with your back rounded and bent then you massively increase the sheer forces on your spine which equals NOT SO FINE. Remember, ‘Neutral spine = You’ll be fine!’ My advice is to start light, take your time, and stop blaming perfectly good exercises if you’re too lazy to learn good technique.
Surprised with some of my suggestions? Maybe want to add some of your own? Send me a message over facebook.com/characterstrength, or even shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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